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Buying a boat is a big investment, meant for fun and relaxation.  It is wise to have a boat surveyed prior to purchase to reassure that the boat meets your expectations.

When choosing a surveyor, do not assume that all surveyors are the same.  Interview the surveyor.  Do not rush the process of finding the right surveyor.  Even though you are in a hurry to own the boat, take your time.  Delaying the purchase by a day or two will pay off in the end, because you thoroughly researched the candidate you are going to hire to protect your interest.

But where do you start?  Often the broker will provide you with a list of surveyors.  You can also go to SAMS website and obtain names of surveyors.  Also, ask fellow boaters who they would recommend.  Now that you have a list, start calling.  


1)  Member of SAMS or NAMS.  If so, are they an AMS and for how long?
2)  How long have they been surveying?  What did they do before becoming a surveyor?
3)  Knowledge of the boat you are buying.  If a sailboat, do they have sailing experience? 
      If steel or aluminum, what is their welding background?
4)  Obtain a copy of their work.  Is it an equipment list or a detail report?  Is it easy to read
     and understand?  Does it cover every area of the boat?
5)  Boating background.  What is their experience beyond boat handling?
6)  Ask for references.  

The surveyor is an expert in boat construction, installation of electrical systems, fuel systems, fresh water systems, and every aspect of the boat.  The surveyor should know how to perform preventive maintenance and repairs.  Even though knowledgeable on operation of the engines, it is wise to have a marine mechanic to do engine evaluation.
Capt. Ken Henry, AMS, IIMS, IAAI
Marine Surveyor and Consultant